“Ice Cold in Arran”

04 Sep


I remember the days I used to get home after a walk and churn out another Fatdog “Tail” by 10pm the same evening.  Four evenings since our visit to Arran and I’m still trying to complete the damned thing…soon the writing will be as slow as my walking 😀 .

The Intro found us on the Arran Ferry with a motley collection of dugs and owners…so as soon as we were down the gangway we made our break for freedom from the floating doggy psychiatric hospital…

Once off the ferry we bypassed the buses (on reflection a mistake) and headed north along the Brodick promenade, turning first available right in the general direction of the golf course.  As the road ends a path appears, guiding you between long tidal channels behind the beach and the cropped greens of the wee white ball bashers.

Brodick Bay

Goatfell sneaks into frame

Goatfell is a real poser of a mountain!  So much does it dominate Brodick Bay it’s almost impossible to ignore it.  It elbows out other potential camera subjects and will sneak into the background of shots when you’re not looking.  We did elude it briefly to watch a heron on the other side of a narrow creek.

The Heron and The Ship

The path continued to follow the beach/golf course boundary other than for one slightly inland diversion to meet a footbridge over the Glenrosa Water but once over the path cut an immediate right back towards the shore.  So for the last few hundred metres before the village of Cladach we walked along the beach.  By this time the 3 dugs (mentioned in the intro) had caught up.  While two sniped noisily at each other, the hormone driven “friendly” one insisted in forcing his unwelcome attentions on a puzzled Fatdog.  Despairing at the totally ineffective shouting by his owner I removed him by a thinly disguised death-hold on his collar.








On the Beach

Leaving behind the choking dog, we left the beach and crossed the main road from just opposite the track to the Arran Brewery.  From here the route is a simple one;  check the information board at the start, then follow the signs.  It’s almost impossible to go wrong…even taking into account our wayward navigation while driving to Ardrossan.

Parched tongues dragged longingly along the gravel path as…somewhat reluctantly…we filed slowly past the brewery, but it was just a bit too early in the day.  Our route was now enclosed by tall trees and rhododendrons as the gentle climb began, the warm air filled with the gentle buzzing of insects and the snarling growl of chainsaws…the rhododendrons were taking a right pasting.  The snarling and growling continued behind us as we gained height – but now it was the snarling and growling of those battling dugs that predominated.  They were catching up.

Not far to the gate...Goatfell in background

The rowan berries are out in profusion these days...looking down to Brodick Bay

It was hot as we left the tall trees for the swath of native planting above the main forestry.  The sun blazed down and the breeze was non-existent and I for one was glad when we reached the gate at the limit of the Forestry Commission ground and moved onto the barren slopes of Goatfell owned by the National Trust.

from here it feels a long slog (if you're me!)

That relief didn’t last long.  That has to be the most deceptively long corrie approach I’ve ever come across.  The small human dots on the path ahead never seemed to get any closer and once we reached where the path tops the east ridge, those same small dots seemed to take an eternity to make any progress up the steep rock steps of the last 270m of ascent to the summit.

We reach the east ridge...but I'm pretty puggled by now! (look for human dots in front)

I’d been struggling over that last 100m of ascent onto the east ridge.  The constant stepping on hard rock had been stressing my right leg.  I contemplated calling it a day at this point as we seemed to be still a long way off the summit but I find it difficult to do the sensible thing…so upward we plodded…my steps becoming smaller and s-l-o-w-e-r.  I think my expectations (of my abilities) are too high as, on reflection, there didn’t seem to be much difference (overall) between the speed of my ascent and that of other walkers in the area at the same time.  I just appeared to be closer to rigor mortis.

Nearly out of steam! (keep looking for those wee dots - they're there...somewhere!

By way of contrast Cap’n Jack, who had been feeling the pace early on, had disappeared onto the big rocks away from the path and was having a jolly old time scrambling all over them…then appearing on the path some 50m in front.  He can be a smug wee so-and-so!  Oh for a fraction of that energy.  We appear to have an oddly symbiotic relationship, Cap’n Jack and I, in that when he is struggling I’m at my best…and vice versa.  It’s almost like we steal energy from each other.  Must be something to do with shared genes.  Sadly the balance is very much in his favour these days though, in fairness, later on he did offer to carry my pack when my back and right leg were giving me problems and I was struggling on the descent.

But for the moment we’re still at the “up” part of this “tail”

The Goatfell Summit

The Arran Flyfishing Championships were already underway when we arrived.

It was hell, but we got there…along with the radio hams, the teenage explorers, the fell runners, the wayward dugs, my fellow geriatrics not to mention a cast of thousands of big black ugly flies and the ever present throng of carnivorous west coast midges.

a totally knackered Fatdog

A' Chir (left) Cir Mhor (foreground) Caisteal Abhail (background)

The Fatdog collapsed, a wallowing, panting heap now lurking in the shade of a big rock, only moving to take a big drink from her water tub.   Meanwhile I shuffled off with the camera to take photos of the stunning ridgelines to the north and west.  The clear skies meant that everything the Arran mountains had to offer was on view.  Cir Mhor, Caisteal Abhail, Beinn Tarsuin, A’ Chir, the Witch’s Step.

Caisteal Abhail (left) and the Witch's Step (right)

L to R - Cir Mhor - Caisteal Abhail - North Goatfell

Cap'n Jack once more indicates his general dissatisfaction with the human race...and my photography

No sooner does Cap'n Jack apply the coconut suncream - than The Fatdog licks it off.

I hobbled stiff-legged across the weathered granite boulders of Goatfell summit.  I had hoped we’d be able to press on to North Goatfell, but my legs had no chance of taking me any further along that ridge…and The Fatdog was looking pretty beat as well.  As I watched with envy those fit enough to march off happily towards North Goatfell and the ridge beyond to Cir Mhor, I regretted the choice of walking from the ferry.

That extra 3km to the start of the hill proper had cost me a kilometre or so of stunning ridgewalk.   Sadly there was no way my legs would allow any more ascent so we took a few photos, had a black fly and midge sandwich, then dropped back down the rock steps and into the corrie.

While the last few hundred metres of ascent had been a killer the descent proved to be a slow, achy, process.  The right leg, overstressed on the ascent, was now at the non-functioning stage.  It was thoroughly pissed off.  It had to lead on all the down steps and was overworked in the extreme.  When I rested I could feel all the muscles pulsating.

We had hoped to catch the ferry at 4.40pm but in reality that idea went out the window due to my slow ascent.  Now that my descent was almost as slow we were left with only one option.



Catch the next Ferry?


Of course…but more importantly…


Visit the Brewery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Ice Cold in Arran"

Much later, as I stood on the deck watching the sun go down over Arran, my thoughts turned to a revision of what The Fatdog and I should be attempting given my current struggles with even the simplest of hill routes…

Sunset over Arran

…but they were drowned out by a sudden snarling and  growling!

“…those bloody dugs!”

My thanks to Cap’n Jack for contributing a good number of photos for this “Tail” 😀


Posted by on September 4, 2010 in Corbetts


8 responses to ““Ice Cold in Arran”

  1. Martin Rye

    September 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Ken. great photos and views you had. It looks a fantastic place to visit.

  2. Tessa Park

    September 5, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Great pics – sorry to hear the leg is playing up again. I’m still to do this one even though it’s Stuart’s local hill as he already did it long before we took up hillwalking!

  3. fatdogwalks

    September 6, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks Martin 😀 Arran is a crackin’ place to walk and has, apparently, great scrambling territory. Maybe I’ll make it up there again – without such a long walk in.

    Tessa: The legs are ok – just a bit unpredictable – I will have to cut down the ascent and distance though to get the best out of a day…and avoid hills with a lot of rock steps…that’s a real killer. Although the walk is nice along the golf course and the beach if I were you I’d take the bus! 😆

  4. Andrew

    September 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Fantastic read as always Ken.
    Not been to Arran but really looks like a good place.
    Hope the legs don’t keep you from walking too much

  5. fatdogwalks

    September 7, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Andrew 😀 . You’d enjoy Arran – superb mountains.

    The legs are a permanent issue 🙄 but I’m now looking at Corbetts with less than 700m ascent which should make life a bit easier. 😀

  6. Anonymous

    November 19, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    pictures are great i laughed when you said legs were knackered brought it back to me when we did it the agony that climb was well worth it well cool fotos

  7. coffeeandwoodsmoke

    October 1, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    What gorgeous scenery! To experience the mountains and the ocean in one day is living the high life. Not to mention a cold beer at the end of a strenuous hike! Your pup is beautiful. The island of Arran is definitely on my to-see list!

  8. Ken Brown

    October 2, 2018 at 8:32 am

    With Scotland being a pretty small country you can have quite a variety of scenery in one place! There is a hill only 10 miles from where I stay and from its top, on a good day, you can just see the tips of two islands – on opposite coasts of the country!

    Ah…my fault…I probably didn’t make it clear when I posted on your blog – this is a post from 2010 on my old blog. Maisie was about 7 when we climbed this hill – she was a great dog and we wandered up many mountains together. It’s just over 6 years since we had to say goodbye to her. Her “replacements” are now 6 years old! I’ll no doubt post a photo of them on the new blog.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: